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Vegetarian Cabbage Rolls

Traditional cabbage rolls, or Golubtsi, are usually filled with either pork or beef, rice and various spices. To make this version plant based, we use wild rice as the main filling ingredient. The rice gets mixed with sautéed mushrooms and onions, plus herbs and spices for mega flavor.

Vegetarian cabbage rolls

This mixture gets rolled in cabbage leaves, smothered in a rich and flavorful tomato sauce, and baked to perfection. A true Russian would top this with a hearty spoonful sour cream, but if thats nyet that’s not your jam, I skipped the cultured white stuff as well. These rolls are perfectly delicious on their own.

Vegetarian cabbage rolls recipe

There are a few tricks to making perfect cabbage rolls.

Tip #1: Treat your leaves right.

The hardest part about making cabbage rolls is the rolling. This process can be difficult and the tough cabbage leaves can break or tear, letting the delicious filling fall out. For perfect rolls, we will use Savoy cabbage, which is softer than green or red cabbage. We also soak the leaves in hot water to soften them up for easy peasy rolling and cabbage rolls that look perfect every time.

Tip #2: Its all about the sauce.

The sauce is an important part to these rolls. It adds loads of flavor, and keeps the rolls from sticking to the baking dish. Slather on a good amount of sauce in the bottom of the dish and then brush some more on the top of the rolls before baking. We also stir in some of the sauce to the filling to help bind the filling together and keep it moist.

Tip #3: Don’t skimp on the spices.

We rely on a lot of spices to amp up the flavor factor in these rolls. More spices = more flavor = better cabbage rolls. While the spices might seem excessive, they will round our the flavor of the tomato sauce and make these cabbage rolls mighty tasty.

Vegetarian cabbage rolls serve


  • 1 cup wild rice mix
  • 1 teaspoon avocado oil OR olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, finely chopped
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 head cabbage, leaves carefully removed
  • For the sauce:
  • 15 oz tomato sauce
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup water


1. In a small saucepan add in all of the sauce ingredients. Over medium heat, bring the sauce to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Coat the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish with a thin layer of the sauce.

Vegetarian cabbage rolls step1

2. Cook the rice according to the package directions. While the rice cooks, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium. Add in the onion and sauté until translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add in the garlic, mushrooms, red pepper flakes, thyme, basil, pepper, and salt. Sauté until the mushrooms are cooked, about 7-10 minutes. Combine the mushroom mixture, 1/2 cup sauce, and cooked rice.

Vegetarian cabbage rolls mix

3. Add the cabbage leaves to a large bowl. Fill the bowl with boiling water and cover the bowl with a plate, lid, or even a cookie tray. Let sit for 10 minutes so the cabbage softens and becomes easier to roll.

Vegetarian cabbage rolls cabbage leaves

4. Grab a cabbage leaf, shaking off the excess water and add 2-4 tablespoons of the filling mixture to one end of the cabbage leaf. Roll the leaf up like a burrito, tucking in the sides. Depending on the size of the leaf, you will need more or less filling. Line up filled and rolled leaves in the baking dish.

Vegetarian cabbage rolls cabbage leaves roll

5. Continue rolling and adding to the baking dish until all the leaves are filled.

Vegetarian cabbage rolls green

6.Cover with the remaining sauce.

Vegetarian cabbage rolls sauce

7. Bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes or until the rolls are warmed through. Serve.

Vegetarian cabbage rolls plates